Passive House for All - Affordable Housing Project as a Tool for Social Equity (Alice Gibson)

Room 2 • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM • Friday, Oct. 19


True social fairness is the apportionment of the highest living standards, not just to those who can afford them but to all, irrespective of monetary capacity. The YWCA Ottawa Street is a 50-unit affordable housing & community center that is leading by example, proving that low-income housing can be built on a modest budget to the highest energy standard. In doing this, the building can become a tool for social empowerment of its occupants.

Through dedication to the Passive House Standard, the YWCA exemplifies social and fiscal responsibility, using the intrinsic resilience and low energy consumption of this development to protect the capital investment. Sub- metering will allow the YWCA to track energy usage providing useful data for future learning. Collaborative funding with the City of Hamilton has enabled this project to become a trailblazer in achieving social inclusion at an accountable and traceable cost. Through community involvement, educational programming and outreach marketing, this project will guide a new generation to seek a higher standard as they make their way in life.

Another ambition is to de-stigmatize low-income housing by providing accommodations that are on par with market-rate rentals, at an occupant comfort level that far surpasses most current residential developments. Located on a bustling street, the YWCA Ottawa Street will act like a compact city benefitting the community. Potential benefits include ease of access to services and transit, reduced reliance on cars and a higher potential for social integration, fostering a more socially equitable footing for residents and visitors alike.


Alice Gibson has been an invaluable member of the Kearns Mancini (KMAI) team since 2012. She received her Bachelor of Architecture degree upon graduation with First Class Honours, the highest level of academic achievement, from the University College Dublin in 2009. Through her work in both Ireland and Canada, Alice has broad, international experience spanning numerous sectors including commercial, institutional, residential and retail. Since joining KMAI, she has demonstrated a proven ability to administer all phases of a project, while remaining cognizant of tight schedules and client requirements. She is an outspoken client advocate and loves the challenge of interpreting a brief into an experience beyond client expectations. She is continually striving to expand her knowledge and develop new techniques to help showcase projects and engage clients, including animated visualizations. Alice is a Certified Passive House Designer working on expanding the reach of this exemplary standard across the office portfolio of projects.